I did a thing this year.
I had a goal for quite some time to stream an old video game every week, switching to something new each and every week. The hook was that it had to be a game I hadn’t played before, something I physically owned in the collection, and titled alphabetically working from A to Z. Hence, the weekly A to Z stream!
It started in January of this year, and by the end of June, 26 games were played. Some good, some bad, and a lot in the fuzzy middle of it all. However, there were some highlights (on both of the extremes), and those are the ones I want to talk about today. Let’s jump right in!
#5 Best: Tiny Tank
Sometimes tongue-in-cheek humor and Americana go hand-in-hand, and that’s definitely the case with Tiny Tank. In what I feel can accurately be described as “What if Wall-E happened, but it was American as all can be”, the game has you playing as Tiny, a tank with an attitude and penchant for American military mumbo jumbo. Stages are varied, the gameplay is tight (at least for the PS1), and really the humor is what drove this one into the top. Genuinely funny cut scenes are worth it, even 20 years later!
#5 Worst: Dynasty Warriors
OK, I feel a bit bad putting Dynasty Warriors on the “Bad” list because the game certainly isn’t anywhere near as poorly received as the others. However, I have a personal quarrel with the game. If you weren’t aware, the first Dynasty Warriors game was a weapons-based 3D’ish fighter. But before you start thinking this will be like Soul Calibur or Tekken, take a step back and understand the game didn’t quite get things as down as you’d hope. Hit detection is spotty at best. The range of certain characters combined with the power of certain moves makes some character seemingly pointless in the matchups. Worst though, the input/move prioritization is awful. Or maybe it was just me and I sucked at the game, I don’t know.
#4 Best: No One Can Stop Mr. Domino
Cult classic status lead me to pick up this one very late after release, and cult classic is precisely how I’d continue to describe this game. No One Can Stop Mr. Domino is a puzzle game that does a lot of unique things. I’d dub it a “Perfection Puzzler”, as you kind of need to be in order to win. But lining things up properly, and setting off the best chain reaction possible is incredibly satisfying. Though there aren’t that many levels, the sheer skill needed to perfect each stage is more than enough replay value to last a few good hours. Worth a look for sure!
#4 Worst: Pinobee
This action platformer hybrid felt kind of phoned in to me. It was ported from the Game Boy Advance, and released well into the PS2’s life cycle, which makes me wonder who this game was even for. The concept is solid, I’ll give it that: get to the goal of each stage using a variety of movement and flying skills, while avoiding hazards and enemies. However, a weak storyline, unlikable characters, and strange camerawork makes this one a sore point. Worse though, it was just kind of boring. Definitely better platformers on the console!
#3 Best: Um Jammer Lammy
This is very much Parappa the Rapper 1.5. It’s by the same team, it features the same visual stylings, and best of all it plays and sounds just like the first game. Comparing Um Jammer Lammy to Parappa the Rapper directly, I think Parappa is more memorable but Lammy has the more difficult songs. Input lag hurt my experience a bit, but that didn’t stop me from absolutely loving this one! Also, what’s that? You can unlock Parappa as a playable character, and then REMIXES of ever song, thereby doubling the entire songlist? Hell yes! Absolutely worth a look for anyone that likes these games
#3 Worst: Irritating Stick
OK, so Irritating Stick isn’t a good game on Playstation. It’s based on the arcade game of the same name, which is itself based on the Japanese game show of the same name, which has contestants/players navigating a huge stick through a maze without touching any sides, Operation-style. The Arcade game works well because it has said irritating stick as a controller, but you obviously cannot do that with the PS1. That means you’re left interpreting if the depth of movement is correct. Fun fact: it won’t be! At least it’s still irritating…
#2 Best: Legend of Legaia
The PS1 is famous for all of its role playing games, and while I’ve played a good amount of them, Legend of Legaia wasn’t one of them. And damn was I missing out. Not only does the game have a unique combat system often described as “fighting game” style, but it’s got decent visuals, a compelling storyline, and some epic music! This was one of the few games I played longer than 2 hours, and one of the few games I legitimately wanted to keep playing!
#2 Worst: Monster Seed
Nostalgia for older games usually means you look past faults you would otherwise call out. While streaming Monster Seed I couldn’t help but compare the game to Monster Rancher, which is undoubtedly what the developers at Sunsoft were going for with this one. However not even nostalgia can hold me back from really disliking this one. Boring monsters and a severe lack of variety really hurt this one. An interesting combat system that has you as the player character also participating in the fight is completely lost on this one. It also didn’t help that I played this directly after the excellent Legend of Legaia, but that’s how the alphabet works.
#1 Best: King’s Field
Hands down, the absolute best game I played during this stream for PS1 was From Software’s King’s Field. It looks terrible by today’s standards (and even back in 1994 it was still kind of blocky visually) but the gameplay holds up incredibly well. If you’ve played From Software’s more recent titles like Dark Souls or Elden Ring you might have an idea on how this game plays: imagine those games’ difficultly, setting, and progression/combat systems, descaled on the PS1. That’s King’s Field. The game was thrilling, challenging, and addictive. It was easily the best game of the bunch!
#1 Worst: VIP
Just as easy as it was to name King’s Field the top game, VIP was by far the worst. I just barely passes as a “Game”, being a collection of quick time events, terrible shooting sections, and bland, repetitive beat’em up sections. Starring Pamela Anderson and based on the TV show of the same name, VIP on Playstation has literally no saving grace. It’s just bad. Wait, I take it back, there are some things worth noting: it’s well into the “so bad it’s good” genre, and the game can be completed in an hour. At the very least you won’t have to torture yourself too long to see this game through.
What an incredible list of games. Even the terrible ones! They’ll go down in my memory as a fun experiment and achievement in my gaming history. Though I don’t think I’ll be doing something quite as aggressive again, this was such a fun way to play and experience new games! Oftentimes game collecting ends there: collecting the game. I don’t always get to play them. Finding the time to do so was rewarding and fun: it was something I looked forward too each and every week this year! And for those that followed along, I hope you enjoyed it too!
Until next year,